Classic, Contemporary and Comedy: Miami City Ballet’s inspired Program Three

Miami City Ballet dancers in One Line Drawn, Choreography by Brian Brooks. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

Miami City Ballet presented their Program Three at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts Au-Rene Auditorium in difficult times for the state of Florida.

The company dedicated the performance to the victims of Stoneman Douglas High School, inviting Jaime Guttenberg’s (one of the 17 who were tragically killed) dance team to watch the program.

Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez came out on stage to make the dedication, followed by asking the audience for a minute of silence for the victims. The audience gave special attention to her words,

“Dance is the only art form for emotion. We are not here to heal the pain, but to offer our solidarity and prayers to the families, faculty, and students through dance.”

Several audience members were wearing orange ribbons, a symbol of respect and honor for Jaime, which has been worn by the dance community worldwide.

MCB is located just 40 minutes from Stoneman Douglas High School and alongside the recent pedestrian bridge fall in South Miami.

Miami City Ballet dancers in Theme and Variations. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.
Miami City Ballet dancers in Theme and Variations. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

Program Three highlights three choreographic approaches and styles, completely different from each other with Balanchine, Robbins and Brooks.

The curtain opened with Balanchine’s classic Theme and Variations, which was choreographed in 1947 for the American Ballet Theatre and re-staged for New York City Ballet in 1960.

With a bright and recognisable Tchaikovsky score, the corps de ballet stood tall alongside Katia Carranza and Renato Penteado as the principal couple.

Miami City Ballet dancers in Theme and Variations. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.
Miami City Ballet dancers in Theme and Variations. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

As Balanchine wanted, the dancers highlighted classical ballet at its best, opening with a series of tendus and pas de bourreés imitating a ballet class and mirroring each other. Members of the corps de ballet developed themselves into the piece, surrounding the principals and almost never leaving the stage. Sometimes – and especially towards the end – they imitated the couple dancing with flair and coordination.

Carranza and Penteado presented a very passionate pas de deux, followed by technically demanding variations that embraced Balanchine’s quick and dynamic style, though this is one of his earlier pieces.

Both dancers executed and finished their solos in a clear and clean way, showing their experience, knowledge, and years of work with Balanchine’s pieces. The ballet ended with a magnificent Polonaise, in which no dancer made a mistake while the music reached a crescendo. Balanchine’s codas and finales are certainly one of a kind and very impressive.

Miami City Ballet dancers in Theme and Variations. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.
Miami City Ballet dancers in Theme and Variations. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

The second piece of the evening saw the curtain open to gasps from the audience. Brian Brooks’ One Line Drawn starts with 16 dancers in a line facing a dramatic light that sets a captivating anticipation for the piece.  

Miami City Ballet dancers in One Line Drawn. Choreography by Brian Brooks. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.
Miami City Ballet dancers in One Line Drawn. Choreography by Brian Brooks. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

The 16 soloists never stopped moving, Brooks’ choreography showcasing the company’s as diverse and talented dancers. The piece mixed and matched men and women: sometimes in duos, sometimes in trios, sometimes all together, or just one solo. Brooks’ blended the pairing of genders, showing, even more, the diversity of the company and their individuality in the piece.

The music was composed by a local Miami Beach-raised composer, Michael Gordon. With consistent percussion, it certainly kept the piece submerged in a mysterious mood. The dancers moved around and behind the light panel, walking and forming lines, as the name of the piece suggests. The costumes were simple and minimalist, and in conjunction with the lighting, the combination was perfect to show and celebrate the movement of the body.

Renan Cerdeiro in One Line Drawn. Choreography by Brian Brooks. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.
Renan Cerdeiro in One Line Drawn. Choreography by Brian Brooks. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

Interestingly, the audience could not predict when the piece was going to end, as it kept going and going with unstoppable movement. Finally, a serious of canon in a line (again, reflecting the name of the piece) with the light panel going off stage, marked the ending of the piece, which received a standing ovation for the choreographer, composer and MCB soloists.

Simone Messmer and Renan Cerdeiro in One Line Drawn. Choreography by Brian Brooks. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.
Simone Messmer and Renan Cerdeiro in One Line Drawn. Choreography by Brian Brooks. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

Jerome Robbin’s classic The Concert topped off the evening perfectly with exceptional characters, great choreography, props, and a very funny and involved pianist (Francisco Rennó) who made the audience laugh from the moment he stepped on stage.

Tricia Albertson and Francisco Rennó in The Concert. Choreography by Jerome Robbins. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.
Tricia Albertson and Francisco Rennó in The Concert. Choreography by Jerome Robbins. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

A bizarre plot, Robbin’s choreography highlights the dancers’ stage presence and ability to act and tell a story; the company gave personality to each and every character. Tricia Albertson brought the passionate girl’s personality to life, while Reyneris Reyes kept the audience laughing with every expression, movement, and sound!

Miami City Ballet dancers in The Concert. Choreography by Jerome Robbins. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.
Miami City Ballet dancers in The Concert. Choreography by Jerome Robbins. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

There was a rain scene, choreography errors on purpose, flirting, passionate dance, murder attempts, and a butterfly intervention. The company definitely kept the audience engaged and entertained and left them wanting more of the characters.

Miami City Ballet dancers in The Concert. Choreography by Jerome Robbins. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev
Miami City Ballet dancers in The Concert. Choreography by Jerome Robbins. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev

Program Three successfully delivered three different pieces, showing contrast and how companies worldwide, like Miami City Ballet, are expanding their repertoire while keeping treasures like Balanchine and Robbins’ pieces intact to the delight of tthe community of South Florida and the world.

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